Why is Prince Escalus important to the story of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?

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Prince Escalus is vital to the story because he represents the voice of law. He is also vital because, as the voice of law, he speaks the lines that most clearly portray the moral that is found in the story, namely, that violent, passionate feelings lead to dismal destruction.

Prince Escalus represents the character who is most dedicated to creating a peaceful Verona and does so by laying down the law to ensure that peace is kept. In the very first scene, we especially see his desires for neighborly peace in his use of diction in the speech he uses to put an end to the third whole-city riot the Capulets and Montagues have started. The use of the word "peace" in the phrase "enemies to peace" certainly points to his desires to create peace in Verona. Also, in the line that he uses to address Lords Capulet and Montague, "Profaners of this neighbour-stained steel-- / Will they not hear?," the use of the word "neighbours" also shows his desire to create peace among the neighbors of Verona, which is how it should be. The phrase "neighbor-stained steel" refers to their swords that are stained with each other's blood. The image serves to capture the outrage Prince Escalus feels towards the ridiculous feud and his determination to put an end to it and create peace.

Besides being the initiator of creating peace, we especially see Prince Escalus relay the moral of the story in the final scene when we see him lay the blame on Lords Capulet and Montague for many deaths, including the Prince's own kinsman, Mercutio, and Romeo and Juliet. Prince Escalus clearly describes the destruction that uncontrolled, violent, passionate emotions create in the lines:

Where be these enemies? Capulet, Montage[Montague],
See what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love! (V.iii.302-304)

In using the word "scourge" Prince Escalus is making the point that Capulet and Montague have been punished by God for their ongoing hatred, thereby showing us the moral that uncontrolled, violent emotions bring ill-fate.

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What is role of the Prince Escalus in Romeo and Juliet?

In the midst of all this crazy bloodshed and violence between the two warring families, it's important to have someone impartial, someone who can rise above all this ceaseless insanity. Enter Prince Escalus. As the sovereign ruler of Verona it's his job to maintain good order in the city. But in the actual drama, his role is to provide an objective moral standard against which the actions of the Montagues and the Capulets can be judged and found wanting.

In reading or watching the play there's a real danger that the audience might take sides in the developing conflict. Prince Escalus is there to remind us that this is an unwise approach to take. There is a plague on both the Montague and Capulet houses—to paraphrase Mercutio—and we must remain detached from the bloody feud if we're to develop an appropriate perspective on things. Prince Escalus provides just such a perspective, without in any way diminishing our concern for any of the characters.

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What is role of the Prince Escalus in Romeo and Juliet?

Prince Escalus has two important roles in Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet. First, he's the lawgiver of Verona. It's his job to mediate the dispute between the Montagues and the Capulets, to enforce the laws of the town, and to keep the peace. Secondly, and more subtly, the Prince can be seen as a mirror. He shows the feuding families the irrationality of their conflict, which results in the death of two of their children and several others. He also reflects the moral dilemma of reconciling love and hate. At first, the Montagues and Capulets are so devoted to their mutual animosity, they can't bring themselves to come together and celebrate the love of Romeo and Juliet. The Prince, for his part, can't bring himself to pass judgment on either family in order to end the feuds, though he admonishes their actions. He submits to events like the two families did, passively, like a mirror.

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What is role of the Prince Escalus in Romeo and Juliet?

Prince Escalus, the sovereign of Verona, is a peripheral character in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. He appears in three scenes, and his main role is to be the unsuccessful arbiter of the bitter feud between the Montagues and Capulets. In other words, he takes on a position of law enforcement during a violent and chaotic time. He is first introduced in Act I, Scene 1 when he arrives in the streets to break up the fight between the two families which was sparked by the insulting gestures of the Capulet servants and soon exacerbated by the presence of Tybalt. Escalus halts the violence and admonishes the two patriarchs while warning that future outbreaks will be met by extreme punishment:

Three civil brawls bred of an airy word
By thee, old Capulet, and Montague,
Have thrice disturbed the quiet of our streets
And made Verona’s ancient citizens
Cast by their grave-beseeming ornaments
To wield old partisans in hands as old,
Cankered with peace, to part your cankered hate.
If ever you disturb our streets again,
Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace.
The Prince appears again later in the play just after the deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt in Act III, Scene 1. Rather than follow through with his original proclamation that death would result if the peace was again broken, he is wise and judicious in simply banishing Romeo rather than putting him to death, despite the pleas of Lady Montague. Finally, after more tragedy has ensued, Prince Escalus appears in the final scene of the play lamenting his leniency and condemning Lord Montague and Lord Capulet for the deaths of their children:
Where be these enemies?—Capulet, Montague,
See what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love,
And I, for winking at your discords too,
Have lost a brace of kinsmen. All are punished.
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Why are the minor characters Paris and Prince Escalus important to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?

County Paris is important to the play in that he serves as a contrast against Romeo to show us just exactly how young and still young-minded Juliet truly is. Paris represents Juliet's alternative more rational choice. Juliet does not actually have a genuine reason to prefer Romeo over Paris. Paris is equally handsome, possibly even more so, as we see from Lady Capulet's opinion that, "Verona's summer hath not such a flower," and the Nurse's agreement (I.iii.81). Paris is older, wiser, and has the higher noble rank of a Count, showing us that he can provide for her far more fully than Romeo ever could. Not only that, Paris genuinely loves Juliet, as we see from his persistence in asking for her hand and from his genuine grief over her faked death. However, Juliet allowed her young emotions to be swept away by Romeo simply because he was far more forward with her and even gave her her first kiss. Thus, Paris serves to represent adult, rational thought in contrast to Romeo, who represents youthful emotionalism.

Prince Escalus is very important to the play in that he represents the deep, booming voice of justice, law, and even of philosophy. He acts as the voice of law by laying down the harsh penalty of death should the two families battle in the streets of Verona again. He acts as the voice of justice by justly sentencing Romeo to banishment instead of death for killing Tybalt when he learned that Tybalt had started the quarrel and even slayed the prince's own kinsman, Mercutio. He frequently acts as the voice of philosophy by referring to Lord Capulet and Montague as "beasts" for spilling blood to "quench the fire of [their] pernicious rage" (I.i.80). He further acts as the voice of philosophy by showing us just how much damage Capulet's and Montague's feud caused. We see this in his lines in the closing scene,

Capulet, Montage[Montague],
See what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love! (V.iii.301-304)

Without Prince Escalus's wisdom, the readers/viewers would not truly be able to pin hatred as the true cause for all of the death in the play.


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